At the end of 2008, Malaysia has about 23000 doctors, almost half in private sector.
Our Ministry is trying to achieve a ratio of 1:400 as existed in most OECD countries.
In the haste to achieve this number game, they have forgone quality.
It does not mean the more the better. Look at some of the communist countries like Bulgaria. They have a ratio of 1:200 doctor:population ratio. That does not mean that they have a better healthcare than Britain which has a ratio of 1:450. Another example is Kazakhstan which has a ration of 1:280 , as compared to Australia which has a ratio of 1:400. Does that means that Kazakhstan has better healthcare than Australia?
Our officials stress too much on achieving numbers. They stress too much on ‘form’ rather than substance.
If we have well trained doctor which are productive, a ratio of 1:1100, will mean that we are on par with those 1;400 countries with doctors which have low productivity.
Alas, we built 5 star hospitals with lobby bigger than Shangri La, but you dont need 5 star bed to treat diseases. You need clinical acumen , experience, and doctors who communicate with their patients.
As for the question asked by MKO in the last post (A doctor too many 3), it is still ok to get treatment from govt hospital NOW. In 5 to 10 years time, I am not sure. Unless they buck up, and set up a body to oversee the standard of doctors produced, I will not want to get treatment there in 10 years time.
I must stress that I am never against producing doctors. I am not in favour of producing too many INADEQUATELY TRAINED doctors. That would be like producing too many gun-carrying policemen without training them as to when to shoot and when not to shoot.
At the rate we are producing doctors, 4000 a year, we will soon be down to 1:100 ratio.
Let us assume that we have a population of 27 million. Let us assume that the population growth is 3%. So every year, we have an additional 800000 people. Divide 800000 by 400, you get 2000. That means once we achieve a ratio of 1:400, we need only to produce 2000 doctors a year to maintain the ratio found in most advanced country. But we will be producing 4000 local plus 1000 from overseas (India, Indonesia etc..many will be staying put in the place they study like my children). So there will be excess 3000 doctors a year… This will quickly bring our ratio down to perhaps 1:100, and you will find some of the hawkers and taxi drivers with MBBS degree hanging in their stalls or taxis.
And looking at the history of medicine at advanced countries, when their doctor:population ratio decreased, the charges went up, and so was the cost of medical treatment , even when taken into consideration of inflation. This is because those who are competent, will charge higher and do more investigations, to make up for the decrease in number of patients each doctor is seeing.
There will come a stage when we have too many doctors, too many lawyers(already happening since some junior lawyers have to pay the senior lawyers to do their chambering), too many nurses, too many hawkers, too many cars, too many motorcycles, too many politicians, too many parties, too many police, too many criminals and too many crooks….. I dread to think of such a day!
As for the suggestion by Stevent in the last post, yes, we can send them overseas to work and gain experience, but which country would take them in if their standard is low? I am sure there is a cutting point where even Singapore would not want to take them in, as is the case now.
So you can still send them, to tag with experience doctors. That would like starting their medical training again and you need to pay overseas doctors money to do that sort of things, and there is really no guarantee these people will come back, once they are competent enough to be able to find a working job overseas.
The whole system is rotten, and all the planners can think of is short term and they are all very short sighted… Ultimately they will suffer too if there is a drop in medical standard. Because health hits everyone equally, it does not mean that if you are wealthy and powerful, you would not get cancer or immune disorders.. Ultimately, like facing the creator, everyone will have to face health problems, and they will then realise that what a monster they have created in their haste to achieve certain figures… Because a healthcare system without good doctors will be like a monster released ..